2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Toyota Highlander

2019 jeep grand cherokee 

2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Toyota Highlander

Although labeled in the same class, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Highlander are significantly different, with the Grand Cherokee pulling out all the stops to impress drivers.

Engine and Performance

The 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission at all trim levels. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a very pleasant ride with smooth shifts both up and down that will have vehicle occupants feeling great about the ride. The Highlander also offers an eight-speed automatic transmission, but not in the base LE trim level (where it offers a six-speed instead).

The Grand Cherokee's V6 engine can be upgraded to a 5.7 liter HEMI V8 at higher trim levels on 4x4 models (Limited, Trailhawk, Limited X, Overland, High Altitude, and Summit), and the high-end SRT model comes with a larger 6.4-liter HEMI V8. In comparison, the Highlander comes in its base LE configuration with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine which will feel sluggish in comparison, and the SE and Limited trim levels bump this up to a 3.5-liter V6.

So Jeep offers more power across the board which, despite the Grand Cherokee's heavier weight, it makes better use of. Yet despite the much more powerful Jeep engines, fuel economy is comparable as the base Jeep achieves 19 city / 26 highway and the base Highlander is EPA rated at 21 city / 27 highway. Upgrading to Jeep 4x4 or Toyota AWD will cost you 1-2 mpg each respectively, so those models are comparable as well. However, the significant boost to capability is worth it for the Grand Cherokee, as the extra power results in a much larger towing capacity, ranging from 3,500 to 7,200 pounds depending on the configuration. In comparison, the Toyota Highlander's towing capacity ranges from a mere 1,500 pounds in the base model to a peak of only 5,000 pounds.

In driving tests, the Highlander was sluggish when using the low range of the acceleration pedal, which bordered on annoying after a while. There were no such drawbacks to the Grand Cherokee. Steering was comparable in both vehicles. Upgrades for the Grand Cherokee favor the bold, as its upgraded off-road capabilities dwarf the Highlander's capabilities. For example, the Grand Cherokee's Trailhawk trim level adds loads of off-road features. In contrast, the Highlander's upgrades mostly focus on creature comforts (which you can still get on the Grand Cherokee), so it's clear the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk offering distinguishes Jeep from Toyota here. In base models, the off-road performance of both vehicles is similar, but for drivers who are off-road enthusiasts, the Trailhawk trim level beats any trim level of the Highlander, hands down.

Exterior and Interior

The Jeep Grand Cherokee still features Jeep's iconic exterior styling - a beautiful, uniquely Jeep appearance that, though it has undergone small changes over the years, stands as time-tested, and instantly exudes an SUV with rugged outdoor capability. As SUV styling has changed, minivans have fallen out of favor, and the crossover segment has grown, Jeep has managed to keep the Grand Cherokee true to its roots, avoiding the minivan and station wagon styling that has crept into the design of most modern crossovers. There is an authenticity to the Jeep in its outward appearance that is simply refreshing in this day and age - it is an SUV above all else. That's not to say it can't accommodate a large family or take the kids to practice, but its exterior and styling stand alone. In contrast, the Highlander's exterior, which in its third generation was derived from the discontinued Toyota Venza, is much less distinctive, and its roots in the unremarkable Venza design are still apparent.

The interior of the Grand Cherokee is remarkably quiet, and the seats are very comfortable. In contrast, the Highlander's seats can get uncomfortable after sitting in them for a while due to their contours.

The styling of both base models is about what one would expect, but at higher trim levels, the interior of the Grand Cherokee can even give some luxury brands a run for their money.

Additionally, while the Highlander offers a higher seating capacity of seven or eight (as compared to the Grand Cherokee's seating capacity of five), the Jeep's configuration generally seems to have more utility overall as the significant increase in cargo capacity of the Grand Cherokee with all seats up makes the vehicle much more serviceable for long trips.

In contrast, the Highlander's third row is not comfortable or serviceable for adults, so the sacrifice of cargo space to include it is just not worth it, and unless a lot of children are in the picture, is probably best served simply being left folded down.

Both vehicles will sit five spaciously and comfortably, but the higher seating capacity of the Highlander on paper should be only considered with a very big grain of salt given the very small dimensions of the third row - 55.0 inches of shoulder room, 45.6 of hip room, but most notably only 35.9 inches headroom and a mere 27.7 of legroom. With the Highlander's third row down, cargo space is comparable, however, the Jeep's 36.3 cubic feet of cargo room is perfectly serviceable here.

Amenities and Technology

In terms of amenities, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which ensures seamless integration with the two most popular smartphone platforms. Toyota offers neither such alternative, which really stings. As smartphones continue to increase in popularity, and more consumers obtain their music through mobile devices rather than traditional radio or satellite radio, the seamless functionality of CarPlay and Android Auto figures to only increase in importance over time.

Outside of that key distinction, Jeep's UConnect and Toyota's Entune suites are comparable, and both vehicles allow for the possibility of upgrading the six-speaker audio - Jeep to a nine-speaker Alpine stereo or 19-speaker Harman Kardon system, and Toyota to a 12-speaker JBL system.

In base models, Jeep's seven-inch display screen for its UConnect system beats the small 6.1-inch display Toyota offers in the base Highlander. In fully upgraded models, the Highlander's display screen can be increased to eight inches, but the Grand Cherokee's can be increased to 8.4. While two-fifths of an inch of screen size is not a lot, it is still bigger, and front row passengers will especially notice the size difference when comparing the base models. 6.1 inches for a display is simply too small for most modern drivers' expectations, particularly as technology and technology integration continue to become a larger and larger part of how people interact with their cars with every passing model year. Jeep's UConnect also offers an extremely fast response time to commands, which makes it one of the best suites offered in the marketplace today.

Make an Inquiry

By submitting your contact information, you consent to be contacted by telephone about purchasing a vehicle or obtaining vehicle financing. Clicking on the Submit button above is your electronic signature.


  • Monday 9:00am-9:00pm
  • Tuesday 9:00am-9:00pm
  • Wednesday 9:00am-9:00pm
  • Thursday 9:00am-9:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am-6:00pm
  • Saturday 8:30am-6:00pm
  • Sunday Closed
; ;